World silver medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates hold a slim lead over Olympic teammates Maia and Alex Shibutani after the U.S. Championships short dance in St. Paul, Minn., on Friday.
Chock and Bates, the defending U.S. champions, totaled 75.14 points, bettering their mark from the 2015 Nationals by 1.19 points.
“We felt connected to each other and connected to our music,” Chock said in a press conference after they skated to their third different short dance this season.
The Shibutani siblings, the three-time U.S. silver medalists without a national title, also improved from last year to post 74.67 points.
In 2015, the Shibutanis trailed by .11 going into the free dance and ended up 3.75 points behind Chock and Bates.
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue are in third, 4.04 behind Chock and Bates (full results here).
The U.S. champions crowned after Saturday’s free dance (live on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra) will earn an automatic berth into the World Championships in Boston in two months. A U.S. Figure Skating committee will choose two couples to join them, likely the silver and bronze medalists.
Since 1996, five couples have combined to win all of the U.S. ice dance titles — Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow from 1996 though 1998, Naomi Lang and Peter Tchernyshev from 1999 through 2003, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto from 2004 through 2008, Meryl Davis and Charlie White from 2009 through 2014 and Chock and Bates last year.
Davis and White have not competed since becoming the first U.S. Olympic ice dance champions in Sochi but have not retired. They did Icenetwork.com commentary during the short dance.
If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.
Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.
Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.
If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.
Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.
The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.
Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.
The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.
Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.
Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.
Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.
Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.
The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.